Bryn Mawr’s Geology Department is the subject of a feature in the latest Main Line Today.
On the first day of Arlo Weil’s basic geology classes at Bryn Mawr College, he shows his students a skyline view of a major city. His point is simple: There’s nothing in that image that isn’t related to geology. In a world where Earth Day might be celebrated on a single day, earth science—and geology, in particular—is becoming an everyday interest.
And if the field has had a mainstay rock for the ages, it’s been Bryn Mawr’s geology department. Over 100 years old, it was once the nation’s smallest geology department to offer a Ph.D. Its mineral collection—more than 25,000 specimens, largely from two private local collections—is the country’s fifth largest. In a unique collaboration, students interested in geology at Haverford and Swarthmore colleges take the major at Bryn Mawr, so it’s always been coed. Florence Bascom, who in 1893 became the second woman in America to earn a Ph.D. in geology, founded the program in 1895.
Bryn Mawr’s Geology Department combines physics and biology, chemistry and math in the interdisciplinary study of the Earth and the environment. Emphasis is placed on the importance of field work in learning to understand and manage our physical environment. The department’s faculty members and several affiliates teach courses and conduct research in areas that include invertebrate paleontology, sedimentology, mineralogy and petrology, structural geology, tectonics, and geophysics.